Aimee Couturier’s ten day bike trip in Africa helps educate orphans

From the “Spotlight”- Lockport Union Sun & Journal 7/16

         Many people are traveling for fun this summer, but one lady with local ties is traveling with a purpose. Today’s Spotlight shines on Aimee Couturier’s 400-mile bike ride for charity. Aimee is a Lockport native, graduate of Lockport High School and Syracuse University and currently works for Compass Group. The daughter of local businesswoman Barb Scirto Sullivan, Aimee is currently living in Charlotte, North Carolina.

            Those who know Aimee were not surprised to learn of her latest adventure. She traveled to Peru earlier this year. While she was there she taught English as a second language at an orphanage for a week, and then made the trek to Machu Picchu. She has completed a marathon in Ireland, and will do another next year in Prague. Aimee has also worked in Singapore, England, and for the Department of Commerce in both Washington and Germany. Today she embarks on a ten day journey across Tanzania as part of “RIDETZ- Kili to the coast for a cause.”

             Aimee’s fundraising letter helped her reach her goal. The total yesterday was at $6,625. “Most of you are aware of my passion for travel. In recent years I’ve included volunteering in my travels and have absolutely adored it. I think it’s an incredible way to see the world. You get to learn about the culture and people of another place in a way unlike any other. And in so doing, grow as a person; learning a ton about yourself. With that in mind, I’ve decided to do something a little bit crazy,” wrote the adventurous Aimee. In addition to the money raised for TFFT, Aimee is spending $4,000 to take the journey in support of this project.
             RIDETZ is a 400-mile donor bike ride across Tanzania from Mount Kilimanjaro to the Indian Ocean, following a 19th-century slave trade and early explorer’s route. It is crazy, I admit, but it will also be life-changing, physically exhausting and emotionally exhilarating. The organization behind this fantastic adventure is called The Foundation for Tomorrow. TFFT is a non-profit organization that was founded by Charlotte-native Meghann Gunderman in 2006, which provides scholarships for orphaned African children to attend boarding school in their home countries.
            From July 16 to 25, Aimee will be off on a new adventure. First, she raised money with the help of a lot of friends. “I am asking you to help me by making a tax-deductible donation that will go directly to TFFT, towards sponsoring a new child’s board and education, the construction of a learning center or library, or training the teachers at TFFT’s supported schools. My fundraising goal is $6000. Any contribution amount is always welcomed and very greatly appreciated. In return, you’ll get to personally follow me through blogs, online photos and videos that I’ll post during my trip. I’m sure they’ll provide for some great laughs – and maybe even some tears,” wrote Aimee. You can donate or follow Aimee’s journey at http://www.active.com/donate/TFFTRIDETZ/AimeeCouturier.

The Foundation For Tomorrow uses education as a tool to fight poverty in developing nations throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. They strive to make the largest impact through educational scholarships, teachers training, and library and computer center constructions. TFFT supports orphans who would not be able to receive a primary, secondary or tertiary education. TFFT seeks to create environments in which peace, health and human welfare prosper as a result of a well-educated population.
            The TFFT website reports “There are 800 million people in the developing world who can’t read. We need to think of these children as our children. They are the world’s responsibility. As Bill Gates said at the World Health Assembly in 2005, “In our world today, some lives are seen as worth saving and some aren’t.” We can’t allow this. He went on to say he looks forward to when, “people will finally accept that the death of a child in a developing world is as tragic as the death of a child in the developed world.” This belief in the equal value of human life is at the core of why TFFT committed to shining a light on the situation in Africa.” There are photos and videos of  TFFT’s work at http://www.thefoundationfortomorrow.org or follow the blogs at http://www.thefoundationfortomorrow.blogspot.com.
             According to UNICEF, 10 million children die each year; 30,000 each day die from avoidable, poverty related causes. Through education, TFFT hopes to mitigate this tragedy. Education isn’t a hand out; it’s a hand up. For the cost of a new pair of shoes a donor can contribute to an education program in the developing world that can save/improve the life of a child.

            While packing for her ten-day trek, Aimee had to scale down her wardrobe to two tops and two pairs of pants, with limited space for luxuries. Her mom joked that her one comfort item was a stash of instant coffee, creamer and Splenda to help her face the day in a land where tea is the beverage of choice. What she plans to bring back with her is a heart full of memories and the joy of meeting some of the children she has helped. For her efforts to help children a world away, the Spotlight salutes Aimee Couturier.

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